I had the supreme pleasure and honor of attending a wedding this weekend. It was so lovely, and the couple seemed so happy, that I considered revoking my recent decision to elope, if ever the opportunity arose. (Watching the wedding-preparation process is terrifying.) Then I went to the opening of “Di Ksube” (“The Wedding Contract”), an Israeli play about what really is at the heart of relationships (and how wrapped up we can get in the superficialities of it all). All of which got me thinking that marriage (or a vague legal equivalent) looks like it might be a nice thing, for me, one day. (Somewhere is cyberspace, my girlfriend is freaking out right now. Just kidding, honey!)
Marriage is not for everyone. I am, I assure you, beyond cool with that. And, frankly, if we could keep this issue in the private sphere, I wouldn’t much care one way or another. Pieces of writing like Emily Yoffe’s absurdist exercise on Slate’s website might enrage me, but I’d have a beer with my “marriage is ridiculous” roommate, or any one of the psychologically-scarred people who would have so benefited from their parents splitting earlier, and we’d laugh at her ridiculous assertions that unmarried parents are the greatest shande of our times, and we’d read fabulous feminist rebuttals and everybody could be happy.
Alas, I read sub-heads like “Out-of-Wedlock Births Are a National Catastrophe,” and all I can hear is our fearless leader pronouncing that “My administration will give unprecedented support to strengthening marriages.” I have flashbacks to the Healthy Marriage Initiative rhetoric of yore, which caught on in places like West Virginia to the extent that they’d up your welfare if you got married. Isn’t that nice?
I’m not clear on what our current candidates have to say about the issue, although I suspect both Democratic contenders have had life experiences that may have disabused them of the ideas that marriage is a panacea—or that, if your parents don’t stick together, you’ll be a screw-up. Senator McCain? Anybody want to chime in on this one?
Does government ever have to care about marriage? I guess sometimes, like deciding how married people should be taxed versus how single people should be taxed, or if legal amnesty should be provided to the foreign spouses of immigrants, or if we need to amend the Constitution to protect it from those crazy gays (you know, those folks who are always whining about how they want to get married), and so on. And while I support Emily Yoffe’s right to spout whatever misogynist, dated nonsense she wants, I hope she’s aware that these are still live wires she’s playing with. There are an unbelievable number of ways that marital status is used formally and informally to manipulate women, but there’s neither time nor space for all that in this post. (There’s also ample cringe-inducing stupidity in Yoffe’s unexamined assumptions that the correlation between low marriage rates and poorer people is a causal one. Post hoc ergo propter hoc just isn’t true. But more on that another time.) After a whirlwind weekend of marriage-related events and reading, I just had to point out that the insanity continues. I don’t see the trouble in saying that I think marriage is a beautiful thing—a mitzvah and a simcha both—and adding as a caveat that that’s nobody’s business but mine.
Oh, okay. Maybe my partner’s, too.